FREMONT, CA: The automotive market is changing, with automakers now classing themselves as technology companies rather than carmakers. So it is no surprise that automotive manufacturing is being changed too. As the Industrial Internet of Things evolves, as robots take on redundant operations, analytics, AI, cloud platforms, digital twins, augmented reality, additive manufacturing, and 5G promise milliondollar gains, automotive makers want the smart factory action.
The smart factory enables production to respond even faster to international market dynamics and to change, even more, specific customer demand. Digital production also makes it seamless to produce increasingly sophisticated products. Efficient use of resources like energy, buildings or materials is a competitive factor, a completely digital operations chain also means constant inventory control, and components can be identified anywhere anytime. Production facilities can be managed from anywhere.
Flexible production processes, simplified modification of existing production facilities and the installation of new facilities enable simpler efficient manufacturing processes. This, in turn, lets shorter innovation cycles, and product innovations can be changed to more model series in a shorter time. Active interaction between man and machine using new operating interfaces will transform the working environment entirely. Taking demographic changes into account, this brings new perspectives when developing new working and lifestyle models.
Automakers have invested an average of around 2.2% of revenue in smart factory programmes, with a predicted rise to 3.5% by 2023 – higher than the manufacturing average according to the latest report. But with annual revenues of $1 billion or more per company, that is an expenditure in the tens of millions. Automakers have pressure from several areas, including sustainability, trust and perception, and customer experience. So this means, it is very important to protect margin. Automakers need to create more flexibility with their products and develop more personalization. All of these factors mean that they are driven to move further and move quicker.
See also: Top Automotive Manufacturing Companies